The ongoing explosion of non-boxers boxing produces one of the most out-of-left-field matchups in recent memory this evening (Sat., April 1, 2023) when 54-year-old former four-division champion, Roy Jones Jr., welcomes Anthony “Showtime” Pettis to the Sweet Science in Gamebred Boxing 4’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage of tonight’s PPV main card right here. The UFC Fight Pass/PPV.com “Prelims” undercard kick off at 7 p.m. ET, then main card at 9 p.m. ET.
The rest of the card is loaded with former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) talent, most notably the co-feature that sees Jose Aldo look to make it 2-0 in the ring against old rival, Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens. One fight prior, Vitor Belfort attempts to avenge his 2016 technical knockout loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, while Pearl Gonzalez continues her boxing renaissance against the debuting Gina Mazany.
Need help making sense of this mess? Read on ...
Cruiserweight: Roy Jones Jr. (66-9, 54 KO) vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (0-0)
It’s been five years since Jones’ last sanctioned bout, a wide unanimous decision over well-traveled veteran, Scott Sigmon. It’s been 15 since his last major win, which saw him send fellow legend, Felix Trinidad, into retirement, and around 20 since Antonio Tarver ended his stint atop the pound-for-pound list.
It says something about Pettis’ decline that I’m still on the fence about who wins this. Pettis is talking about entering the ring around 45 pounds above his ideal weight and he’s never been a particularly scary boxer. In fact, the only real highlights I can remember his hands generating were that big knockdown of Tony Ferguson and the Superman punch that felled “Wonderboy” Thompson.
My guess is that we’ll see Jones take a page out of old rival Bernard Hopkins’ book, using regular clinches to smother Pettis’ output and force him to carry an unfamiliar amount of weight. Pettis is obviously far younger and better-conditioned, but this is new territory for him. Even if Jones is far past his expiration date, I can definitely see him latching on, stinking the joint out, and surviving a late surge to eke out a decision.
Prediction: Jones via split decision
Welterweight: Jose “Scarface” Aldo (1-0, 0 KO) vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (0-0)
Here’s an interesting factoid about Jeremy Stephens: despite his reputation as a knockout puncher, he’s stopped just two men with punches in the last decade. I think it’s safe to assume that bigger gloves aren’t going to fix what ails him.
Though Aldo has unquestionably lost a step himself, he looked pretty damn sharp in his pro boxing debut last February, albeit against a very limited opponent. I certainly have quite a bit more faith in his technique than I do Stephens; best as I can tell, the only adjustments Stephens made once the knockouts dried up was a greater emphasis on low kicks, which aren’t going to help him here.
The only real advantage Stephens has here is conditioning, but it’s offset by his lack of experience in pacing himself for a boxing match. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see his big, straight-armed swings suck the life right out of him due to the unfamiliar glove weight. That said, odds are that Aldo once again finds the off button on his midsection before that can play a factor.
Prediction: Aldo via second round technical knockout
Heavyweight: Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (1-0, 1 KO) vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (0-0)
I would genuinely love for Souza to Terminator-walk right into Belfort’s face and blast his nose clean off with an overhand right. It’s a genuine shame that he never got the chance to fight for a UFC title, and after all the struggles he went through at the end of his MMA run, it’d warm the heart to see him ride victoriously into the sunset.
Can’t always get what we want, though. Souza never really developed his standup beyond that overhand right, which loses a lot of its potency when there’s no threat of a takedown to set it up. Against a bulked-up Belfort who, let’s face it, is probably on the sort of gear that’d melt a USADA agent like he’d opened the Ark of the Covenant, that just ain’t enough. Souza will do a bit better than Evander Holyfield did, but I don’t think he has an answer for Belfort just rushing in and throwing flurries until one or the other goes down.
Prediction: Belfort via first round technical knockout
For more on Gamebred Boxing 4 and other boxing-related events, click here.